The Argument Against Royal Families

The royals aren't just garish anachronisms, but the living link to histories of misrule and injustice

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JOHN STILLWELL / PA WIRE / EPA

From right: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, depart with their newborn baby boy from St. Mary's hospital in London, on July 23, 2013.

Before the past two centuries, royal babies were the dominant players of human history. Their births were auspicious occasions, attended by astrologers and mendicants, court intrigues and elaborate sacrifices to the gods. The fate of kingdoms — and all the hapless souls living within them — hinged on the successful issue of these infants, who were born with a divine right to lord over others.

Countries and empires depended on the existence of heirs, well, male heirs, for their continued stability. After all, from antiquity to the Enlightenment, disputes about royal babies sparked myriad wars of succession — the tiny British Isles experienced at least half a dozen of them on their own. The remains of millions of forgotten peasants whose blood was spilled in the name of some presumptive heir still lie beneath the planet’s empty bogs, deserts and fields. It can be said without too much hyperbole that the world’s obsession with royal babies is built on a bed of skulls thousands of years deep.

So forgive me for looking with bemusement at yesterday’s arrival of the Prince of Cambridge. Of course, it’s churlish to speak sourly of a guiltless, newborn child. And, yes, he’s unlikely to provoke any violent battles for the throne, not least because the British monarchy now functions far more like a theme park populated by an awkward, endangered species — Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel likened the royals to pandas,“ill-adapted to any modern environment” — than the locus of centuries of undeserved privilege and imperial power. But all 21st century human beings who witnessed the #RoyalBaby circus should feel more than a bit disturbed.

Others tell me not to take this so seriously. I should revel in the farce and absurdity of the spectacle — where the rapt international media massed by palace gates and waited for hours for the chance to gawk at a fancy notice board stating that a woman gave birth to a boy. The attention lavished by some on the British royals is separated just by degrees from the attention lavished by others on the Jersey Shore and similar gaudy reality shows. What will the couple do next? What is she going to wear? Who will he now play with? How will they all cope?

But the British royals aren’t just a tabloid curiosity. And despite the social-media frenzy that surrounded the event, there was nothing “modern” about it. Intensifying republican movements, both in the U.K. and elsewhere in the Commonwealth, are testament to the disquiet that the lingering institution of the monarchy creates in the minds of many who actually care about values of democracy. And to those, like me, who hail from countries once subject to the British Crown, the royals aren’t just garish anachronisms, but the living link to histories of colonial misrule and injustice.

In his book Ornamentalism, the knighted British historian David Cannadine, currently at Princeton University, details how necessary the British royals were in building the networks of patronage and power that allowed the sun to never set on the British Empire. In their colonies, the British vacuumed up local grandees, sultans and chieftains into a firmament where the British King or Queen was fixed firmly at the center. “All the hierarchies of the empire were to find their culmination in direct allegiance to the monarch,” he writes. The pageantry that that entailed — awards and noble orders and ceremonial processions — meant something very real for the preservation of British supremacy. Important imperial agents and consuls, Cannadine writes, were “veritable walking Christmas trees of stars and collars, medals and sashes, ermine robes and coronets.”

So it’s hard for me to watch the twee rituals of the current Windsors — their easels, their hats, their funny syntax — without seeing the older rites of a far more powerful enterprise. Defenders of the British monarchy and similar symbolic institutions in Europe claim their royals stand for something immemorial and benign, figures of unity in troubled modern times. What they’re really doing, though, is invoking the sentiments of Edmund Burke, the 18th century godfather of British conservatism, who watched the regicidal upheavals of the French Revolution, the arrest of Marie Antoinette and shuddered in horror at what was being lost:

Never, never more, shall we behold that generous loyalty to rank … that proud submission, that dignified obedience, that subordination of the heart, which kept alive, even in servitude itself, the spirit of an exalted freedom!

More than two centuries later, humanity’s sense of its own freedom has no need for “dignified obedience” or “proud submission” to powerless, ornamental monarchs. I congratulate the Windsors on the birth of their new Prince. But I hope the days of his royalty are numbered.

Read TIME’s previous feature about why the royal baby will be such a figure of global influence

Read TIME’s original 1982 story about the birth of Prince William

An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the Booker Prize–winning author. She is Hilary Mantel, not Hillary.

86 comments
Phoenicia
Phoenicia

Since the Fall of Constantine’s Christian Roman Empire and the rise of the Byzantine Court of Justinian, European Royalty has struggled to fulfill its purpose: to symbolize on earth the New Jerusalem, heavenly order, harmony, beauty, and divine love, to speak for God in this world.All Western European monarchs, both Catholic and Protestant have used Christian scripture and institutions to establish and fight over their power and territory and our definition of what a true leader should be.The story of Europe and its worldwide colonies is the journey of Western humanity’s agony and vision which developed over centuries our notions of love, justice, and freedom.With the French and American Revolutions, we tried to do away with all Monarchy, but Napoleon and the Titans of American Business proved that simply executing Aristocrats does not eliminate our need and longing for a symbol of Heaven on Earth.A Palace is a secular Cathedral; a Wedding is a glimpse of Eternity, just as Dante showed us so many centuries ago.  A Royal Baby and his mother is an echo of the Madonna and Child, a far better image than smearing them as horny Rock Stars in our endless war against women and Christianity.  After millions of deaths and centuries of devastation, we have uneasily embraced the limits of both Parliaments and Royalty.We want them to show us perfection, justice, mercy.We want goddesses, heroes, saints, even revolutionaries. All too often they have given us only their bewildered greed and confused decadence.

Two images of Christ have pulled us in opposite directions:Christ the humble, vulnerable and forgiving man, the one who shares our poverty, pain, and dreams; and Christ the Triumphant, Holy Lamb at the end of Revelations, inviting us to his marriage feast in a jeweled city of unspeakable beauty.Our religious compassion and thirst for a better life for ourselves and others has generated the genius and creativity of Western Art and Science.We have created miracles in medicine, energy, business, art, and technology.But we have also stood on the brink of suicide as a species and as a living planet.

The coming decades filled with overpopulation will give us the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.We want leadership, we want scientific miracles to solve our energy, food, water, and climate problems.But more than anything we need wisdom, we need the compassion, humility, and faith of sincere men and women. I pray that Royalty, meaning, all those who lead us as we struggle to find humane and moral answers to the problems we must eventually face, can help us find respect for others, as we marshal the creativity and courage which alone can save us from annihilation, then they will have fulfilled their purpose.The Monarchs, perhaps, lead us in a psychological ritual dance which gathers more and more power as it strives to honestly show us who we are in all our strengths and weaknesses, in all our longing for individual freedom and our need for a faithful community which develops our values, our vision of what it means to be human. Children, especially, show us the beauty of a world that does not need to be perfect in order to be loving.I wish the Royal Family and all our leaders in education, politics, business, art, religion, and science Godspeed.We will all need as much encouragement as possible as we face the challenges ahead.

Since royalty is often a "symbol," many times the poorest, shyest, and most humble people have far more power and influence than famous monarchs or powerful countries. Think of Jesus, Buddha, or Confucius. Consider St. Francis, Luther, Milton, Tolstoy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. Sometimes in History power, fame, and money go together, other times they do not. Thank goodness, it is a mystery, especially when so much of what we hear in the media is not true. Wouldn't it be wonderful to discover that human beings are really much more kind and generous than we have been told? Royals sometimes raise the hope or the dream of what we could become.    Anthropologists like Levi-Strauss and Psychologists like Carl Jung have suggested that these idealized images of men and women which we usually call Royalty are part of our natural psyche and cultural heritage. They appear in the myths and dreams of all cultures throughout the globe. When we try to ignore or destroy the part of ourselves which these images serve, our culture can become lost in a nightmare. Powerful rulers have often created nightmares, of course. But getting rid of Royal figures both in France and Russia created even worse horrors.

Finally, Democracy is not the absence of royalty, but the commitment to treat every person with the respect due to royalty.  For decades, we have witnessed a media warfare between those who believe in royalty and privilege and those who do not.  What if we could realize that royalty is a symbol, when it is used rightly, of the sacred worth of every individual.  Instead of treating non royals or underprivileged people as trash or animals or garbage or dirt, what if we encouraged people to treat others as they would want to be treated, a very old formula, but one that captures both our need to respect figureheads and our need to promote equality.  I pray that every baby has a royal birth...a desire that confronts both pro-choice people who use "abortion" as a code word for mistreating their opponents and, at the same time, confronts those pro-life individuals who are desperately concerned with unborn babies and then refuse to fund basic health, nutrition, and education for poor children once they are born.  There is a place for royalty in the 21st century, seeing every person as the cherished prince or princess they were born to be.  If our religious, government, and media leaders taught us to respect each other, instead of teaching us to treat our opponents as animals, maybe we could learn to work together to help everyone.  Yesterday, Scientists announced they can now transform salt water to fresh water with an inexpensive, efficient method.  Maybe miracles do happen?

wilscombe
wilscombe

This wallah should be aware the English tried republicanism and did not like it.  Far too dull.  I seem  to recall that tens of thousands of Indians were slaughtered when the British Moved out.  I have also tried doing business with Indians but could not recommend it.  Nice country but they do need to get their act together.  Then we can stop supporting their poor.

kinolurtz
kinolurtz

At the end of the day, American's just can't understand our monarchy. 

The monarchy to Brits represents a proud history that stretches back for a vast amount of time; America is practically a child in our eyes, and American culture has less of an emphasis on history than we do in Britain (after all, 250 years of history is more or less no history at all.) And just because it doesn't serve the same purpose as it did, does that mean we should abolish it? Paying for the upkeep of the Royals with taxpayers money is no different to paying for the upkeep of English Heritage sites or cultural attractions. Should we demolish Dover Castle or any of our other great castles because they are no longer used for their intended purposes? Or because they represent a history of military dominance and violence? No, that would be erasing our past and heritage, and a history that we are proud of, warts and all. 

The Royal Family also generates a vast amount of income for the country through tourism (I'm pretty sure it exceeds their upkeep), and the Royals still play a highly important role in British politics and international relations. 

The war and strife linked to monarchy throughout history is more a sign of the times than anything really to do with the form of government. 2300 years ago Athens, a democracy waged endless war building a maritime empire, as did the Roman Republic. And of course it is the same story throughout the entire world in history, no matter whether they had a king, and emperor or president. In the modern world, how can anyone say that constitutional monarchy is un-democratic? For a start, the UK monarchy holds very few, but important powers from the Government, increasing the separation of powers, an important cornerstone of democracy; in fact the separation of powers in our system seem sfar more healthy than that of our American counterparts. And look at some modern republics and their human rights records - China, North Korea, numerous African and Middle Eastern countries. And then look at some modern monarchies: Britain, Japan, Belgium, the Netherlands, Spain; all fully functioning, advanced and relatively social-orientated states. The only odd-one-out I can think of from the top of my head is Saudi Arabia!

Yes, our monarchy has played its part in oppression, war, indulgence and injustice, as has every country in history. That is no reason to abolish an age old institution that is beloved by those for whom it operates. What about all the good our monarchy has done, not just for Britain but for the world? The Magna Carta, the beginnings of human rights, the separation of religion and state, patronage of the arts, the forming of parliament, the commissioning of inventions and industrial developments that have shaped the world. And I would also like to point out to our American friends that Britain abolished slavery long, long before the US. 

I am very much a liberally, social-democratic minded person, and am all in favour of Attlee's breaking up of the Empire as was fitting in the 20th Century. But here is food for thought; perhaps if India had remained under British rule, they might be spending vast sums of money on their own NHS instead of ridiculous space missions.


mrbomb13
mrbomb13

This guy will talk about the "injustices" of royalty, but will not criticize Communist governments for real, continued injustices (CHINA) against their people.

(bleeping) hypocrite.  TIME Magazine can do better than light-weights like this guy.

Pirate-BirdieOf-theHavel
Pirate-BirdieOf-theHavel

Try... tradition. It is a link to our (well.. those of us from a monarchy!) past.

Look at every culture that has turned it's back on its past... eg. China and their 1970s cultural revolution. Didn't work out so well for them.

It is hardly as if Queen Elizabeth or her heirs are going to launch England on another crusade. What she does is be a living link to another time and way of life. And as a person- she is, what... almost 87... still hasnt retired, works more days a year than the average 40 year old adult? What is not to respect?

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

Okay, I live in a democracy, and I think this author's narrow viewpoint on royalty is highly misleading to readers.

EVERY government at some point or another - democracy, monarchy, dictatorship, etc. - has committed some injustice against some group.  In Britain, it was against some peoples in her colonies.  In America, it was against African slaves (and other minorities).  In Russia/USSR, it was against 'enemies of the state.'

Stop bitching, and get over it.  Great Britain no longer harbors the racism it once did, and its monarchy (Queen Elizabeth II) enjoys a sky-high approval rating amongst the public.  Doesn't sound like the monarchy is 1) unpopular, and/or 2) fading away anytime soon.

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

Ishaan Tharoor laments about 'dignified obedience,' and 'proud submission'. But he shouldn'ignore the part played by the British in modernizing India. The British summed up India as a hodgepodge of heathenistic superstition. They felt nothing of value could be gained from the "primitive Hindus.” To murder an unwarranted daughter, to burn a widow alive, to throw a female child into the river among crocodiles or sharks – these were things that to the British seemed wicked. There was also human sacrifice in different parts of India. The Khond tribe in Orissa kept the victims of human sacrifice in comfort, as men keep and fatten pigs. The man selected for sacrifice was called the Meriah. The Meriah was well treated and well fed; but sooner or later, to end a drought, famine, disease, he would be sacrificed. There was the rope sacrifice in the central Himachel Pradesh. The Todas of the Nilgiris and the Banjaras drove herds of cattle over children half buried in the sand. In Burma, which was also under the British, a living child was taken round the village and a finger cut off at each house before the victim was at last killed by repeated stabs. At Tanjore a male child was sacrificed in the Saiva temple every Friday evening until the British rule forbade it. In Bastar in 1830 the Raja sacrificed twenty-five men together at one time. In Bengal, the widow was usually tied to the corpse, often already putrid; men stood by with sticks to push her back in case she escaped. A widow could hope for no pity from her own people. There is a case reported to the British when a woman escaped from the pyre in the dark of a rainy night and hid herself among some brushwood. But they found her. Her son dragged her out in spite of her pleading tied her  hand and foot and threw her back into the flames. Wellesley was advised that prohibition of suttee would cause a mutiny in the native army. Senior citizens are given today many privileges as recommended by WHO of the United Nations. But the British found many old men and women were brought to the banks of the Ganges to die without any medical care. If they did not quickly die, muddy, filthy and contaminated Ganges water would be ladled into the sick mouth and if that failed by stuffing nose and mouth with Ganges mud. Another evil patronized by Hinduism was the strangling of innocent travelers by Thugs. The killing was done by a handkerchief, a square of cloth, in one corner of which was knotted a silver coin consecrated to Kali. The Thugs believed that they were carrying out a divine mission and that as a reward a heaven of their own would be reserved for them. One Thug told Meadows Taylor that he had personally murdered 719 people and that he would no doubt have reached a thousand if the government had not caught him.  Bentinck gave orders which ended Thuggery. There were also other shocking evil customs. Women were not allowed to cover their breasts. Young Nair girls had to sleep with Brahmins first before they were given in marriage to their legitimate husbands and this was called sambandham ceremony. Lower caste people were not allowed to live in tiled houses. They should not wear slippers, gold or silver ornaments, they should not use umbrellas and should stand a furlong away from Brahmins. No wonder this Indian society was described by the British as: “as a barbaric, uncivilized country filled with polytheism, mythology, and idolatry.” Vivekanada who addressed the Parliament of Religions in Chicago did not highlight idolatry, caste cruelty , burning alive of widows and oppression in pre-British India.

BobR13
BobR13

What is the fascination, if that’s what you can call it, with the British Royal family. Especially in this country. After all, the United States won its independence from Great Britain, denouncing King George III and his transgressions in the Declaration of Independence, and expressly prohibited nearly all the trappings of royalty in our Constitution. Thomas Paine in his eponymous pamphlet expressly stated that it defies common sense for an island to rule a continent, and his characterization of a king was the chief ruffian of a restless gang. Besides that, my political philosophy or ideology, as it were, is expressly libertarian. I take seriously Thomas Jefferson’s observation that the government that governs best is one that governs least.

In reality, the monarchy, though at times feckless, and at its worst brutal, has for nearly 1000 years worked pretty well for England/Great Britain. That is not to say that it would work well for these United States, or anywhere else for that matter, though 16 other nations have embraced it. Nevertheless, it is the focal point of the British culture, language, and legal system, all of which are dominant in the United States and for a significant part of the rest of the world’s land and people. Studying and understanding the many generations of reigning monarchs, and their collaterals, goes a long way to helping us understand the historical process that brought our country, and the modern world  into being.

British colonialism was a net benefit for constituent former colonies. I daresay the author of this article is too young to understand, and probably too uninformed to understand that.

eetom
eetom

The writer wrote very well.  Enjoyed reading the article even though I did not agree with everything in it.

He wrote: " It can be said without too much hyperbole that the world’s obsession with royal babies is built on a bed of skulls thousands of years deep."  I do not know if the writer knows Chinese.  I just want to share with him a very ancient Chinese saying "一将功成万骨枯", "when one general succeeded, ten thousand bones rotted".  Such a general can be from Imperial Britain, Imperial China or even "democratic" America.

21stcentury
21stcentury

Ah well, high profile royals have showcased  unique English designs by the likes of Stella McCartney and, on the flip side, provided a source of amusement for their style disasters [ridiculous hats].  I don't care much for English food or fashion, but I unabashedly harbor a hope that Fergie and Andrew will remarry some day.

Mr. Tharoor's humorless face is a hoot. I just want to tickle him.

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

I blame the press. If the Brits want to pay taxes to people because of their pedigree, good luck to them. To each his own.

We in America are obsessed with so called celebrities and make them rich-- even if all they have is a sex tape, amoral and insane drug use, and maybe a nice face and big butts. We are obsessed by musicians and entertainers, and do not respect or give attention in the press to care givers, scientists and doctors who make this country run, and save human lives. We have a press and people obsessed by utter rubbish.

And now, of course, we are being slammed by a the press of about a woman who pushed a child out of her, like many women have done for millions of years. For the only reason that he is part of the culture of a country that once had us as subjugated and dehumanized. I mean, our forebears ran away so we could be free of all that British drama, and now the press is over it like its white on rice.

Let the Brits do what they please, and our domestic press and people here at home need to get a LIFE. I mean, really!! Leave the whole drama and childbearing of these folks alone. Our president is running as a lame duck. There is a sequester in place, and our nation is increasingly creating a chasm between the "haves and have nots.' The American dream is getting elusive with the horrific cost of education. Racial animus is alive and well, and voting by the minorities is seen as a privilege by the Scrt.

Entertainment should have its place in the national discourse, but having ticker tapes on CNN, and having this birth as BREAKING NEWS in  serious publications and on serious TV News broadcasts, over and over again, is pretty absurd. Oh, well!


GaurangaPérezRivas
GaurangaPérezRivas

Royalty and all that mumbo jumbo should only exist in tales. Grow up, Britain!

resser
resser

Good piece by Ishaan. It was amusing to see the coverage of the spectacle after the announcement of the royal birth. They were talking about huge crowds thronging the Buckingham palace without letting the camera pan and see beyond the few hundreds there. 

And, talk about the headlines that screamed  "The World Celebrates the Royal Heir".  No! The world didn't celebrate anything. The rest of the world outside that pipsqueak of a silly Island just guffawed and went about it's business. 


arnabdas
arnabdas

In all fairness, I don't expect people from the West to really understand what the British monarchy means for India. Although India remains a strong ally of post-colonial England, there's no denying that a lot of Indians who have lived under the "British rule" have very bitter memories. It's improper and disrespectful for an Indian to forget the pain and misery and also the lives which were lost when the British were at the helm. The British monarchy, and not the British governments importantly, to his day symbolises everything that it once was. Tharoor merely reflects those views. 

Sarrobsgirl
Sarrobsgirl

Perhaps Americans should focus on the pathetic shamble of a do nothing Congress and let the Brits take care of their own government.

Realworldnonfantasyland
Realworldnonfantasyland

Lions have caused many a Zebra blood to spill, maybe we should stop celebrating Lions in movies such as Lion King and calling Lions the King



 

fred.fries6
fred.fries6

This has got to be one of the most cynical stories I have read in a long time.  Obviously, you have not studied your history as much as you think you have.  I could go into the many reasons I base this statement on, but there just is not the room.

DanBruce
DanBruce

Chances are, the monarchy in England will not survive to see the new price prance. It's a seriously outdated institution that goes againt our American presumption that "all men are created equal." Unfortunately, even though we had he good sense to reject a monarchy in favor of a republic, we still haven't figured out how to rid ouselves of prancing princes (e.g., Bush offpring, Romney offspring, Wall Street tycoons, overpaid athletes and enterainer, etc). 

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

Oh brother.  More whining for past injustices.  CSX railroad being sued because someone moved slaves 150 years ago.  Bank of America being sued because they financed slave traders in 1800.  This writer complaining about the boot of British authority over India.   No one ever bucks up anymore.  I'm Irish, my family was in the Okla land rush, fought Indians/snakes/depressions/dirt bowl but who do I sue for a handout?   The British Royalty is great.  In all a big money maker for Britain.  They have transformed the royalty to public service, good will missions.  Great perks but a lot of responsibility and never any privacy.  Get over it.

rutnerh
rutnerh

It's all escapism from reality and focus on trivial pursuits, the Brits have their fairy tale royalty and we have Disney and unreality spin offs, all with billions of fans and more importantly billion dollar cash cows. So let these follies persist and flourish as long as rational folk do not have to pay for them as British taxpayers do.

Auntianne
Auntianne

The whole royalty  worship is a mystery to me . I do not see it as positive or negative  just cannot comprehend how people  choose to idolize individuals who only major achievement or contribution is their DNA . Did their creation   not come from  the ordinary process?  So many women   across the world give birth everyday and I bet they would love the same  awe inspiring  attention to their newborn   along with the same support and  provisions that this one single child will receive........... 

time4it
time4it

All this should be said about the catholic church and it's ceremonial heads too. "The remains of forgotten peasants whose blood was spilled in the name of some presumptive heir still lie beneath the planet’s empty bogs, deserts and fields."

daena.vassar
daena.vassar

That was very well explained.  And to quote the French revolution is just superb!  And as Americans we ought to turn up our noses on this notion of dignified obedience as well.

I hope as well that the days of the royalty are numbered, with kind wishes to the newborn and her family.

seizeabe
seizeabe

When India got Independence from British rule, in 1947, the India's total population was 350 million. Today, the population is 1200 million. The UN estimates on poverty in India is 750 million (living below the poverty line = less than $2 per day). The Indian government however admits that only 400 million are living below the poverty line (less than $1.25 per day). 400 million! The total population of Egypt is 80 million. The total population of America today is 310 million.

It may have been Queen Victoria, King Edward VII, King George V, King Edward VIII or King George VI then!

But, ever since, it has been Nehru, Indira, Rajiv, Sonia ( Manmohan Singh, for public display) and Rahul (prince).

It is for Indians to ask, as to which of the 2 dynasties have dealt the greater blow.

AblityMouwon
AblityMouwon

@kinolurtz

Wow that reply was filled with a little fire. I think the argument for democracy that this argument is implicitly or explicitly trying to make is a stupid one (a Bush-like one). Americans (I included) cannot assume that the American democracy is an intrinsically prefect system of government, not even in the ideal sense. Thus, to question other countries government structures is just arrogant (on our part).

However, this article raises another question that goes far behind the British Empire, and is actually a question about human nature, or human psychology. That question is: why do human beings willing submit to people considered to be "superior" or "divined?" President Obama resented visited my university. Hundreds of people waited in line, in this July sun, just to watch him speak. Even if one really cared what he had to say, there is Television in a cool air-conditioned room. Still, time and time again, human beings show a clear submission to people of higher status. Not that this is a bad thing, My question is why would a British citizen care more about the royal baby, then any baby being more in hospitals across London.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@AbrahamYeshuratnam Such a swell place.  No wonder the Brits finally left!  Let me ask this gentle readers:  if India had not been a British colony do you think they would be:

a)  better off than they are now; b) worse off than they are now; c) part of someone else's tribe (pick any you like, communist, intolerant religious, banana republic like dictatorship, American protectorate (oops, they are))

I think an unbiased person would say that they would have been far worse off without Britain, but that is my humble opinion.  I think Abraham would agree that Britain helped India move forward, probably kicking and screaming.  Did Britain benefit?  Sure.  I hope they got more out of their colony than we are getting from Iraq!

sun
sun

@AbrahamYeshuratnam I don't agree with Ishaan Tharoor's rubbish article - does he get to write for TIME just because he's Shashi Tharoor's son? (I don't see any talent for content or writing here at all), but you Abraham Y take unbalanced rhetoric to an altogether other level of madness.

sun
sun

@AbrahamYeshuratnam such vitriol, Abraham Yeshuratnam!!!??  Go to the mountains or something, find yourself some peace...Or get laid. I mean, seriously, such vitriolic rot!

JhnSmh
JhnSmh

@BobR13 Embraced? Not really. Tolerate - yes. For how much longer? Not very, for some. The 'net benefit' mentioned is completely unscientific and largely unquantifiable - pure personal opinion. Think of the wealth Britain gained from these former colonies including cheap Asian labor and free African labour and you may start thinking Britain owes the world a lot in past due payments.

vaidu01
vaidu01

@arnabdas Pl read Churchills secret war by Madhusree Mukerjee.They came they saw and they looted thats why they have.   

Cobra6
Cobra6

@fred.fries6 How about the top three to five reasons, or even just one?  Because his history, as broad-brushed as it was, is pretty much spot on.  I'm looking forward to the historical debate..

fred.fries6
fred.fries6

OH, Did I forget to mention that my heritage is British.

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

@notLostInSpace It seems to me they could do a hell of a lot more with the budget they blow on the Royals if they were simply hired for the few ceremonial posts they fulfill.

And since you or anyone you know never had the boot of an oppressor on the neck of your country (oh, wait, your ancestors did, but unlike the author, YOU were born in the U.S. and didn't come from a country that freed itself from British colonial rule under which your parents lived), I don't think you have the right perspective for how someone can view the whole role of the idea of monarchy and its supremely negative overall impact on human history.

And unless I misread the article, he's not suing anyone.  He's exercising human rights, expressing his opinion and bucking up.  Maybe you should read it a few dozen more times to get that point.

Sheesh...  You can lead a person to knowledge, but you can't make them THINK!

Gipkik
Gipkik

@Auntianne 

Part of our mammalian inheritance.  Vestigial emotions not unlike religions have us in their bloody claws.

kinolurtz
kinolurtz

@daena.vassar Oh yes, the French Revolution was just brilliant. Whereas the British sensibly limited their monarchs power over time, and especially after the English Civil War, to create a democratic constitutional monarchy, the French blindly accepted centuries of Absolutism, just to trade it in for republican tyranny. Bravo.

vaidu01
vaidu01

@seizeabe Brush up on facts heres a lead "Churchills secret war " by Madusree Mukerjee.

hivemaster
hivemaster

@seizeabe Bad premise.  Although the raw numbers are higher, I doubt there is a higher percentage of poor now than there were under the British.

truthorelse
truthorelse

@sun @AbrahamYeshuratnam 

Abraham is not just vitriolic but also long and boring and arrogant. Being laid may help but who would want to oblige?

By the way all imperialists believe they are 'spreading civilisation; or 'democracy' among the 'savages' =a delusion they employ to rationalize conquest and exploitation. 

GVA_Laker
GVA_Laker

@JhnSmh @BobR13 Colonies quickly turned out to be more of a financial abyss than actual money makers. France, Spain, Portugal and other former colonial powers are still paying today. On the other hand, former dependencies benefited from a valuable transfer of information, infrastructure, etc. Inhabitants of Britain's present-day colonies in Gibraltar, Falklands and in the Pacific vote to remain under British rule. And the majority of those colonies which gained independence still accept Queen Elizabeth II as head of state. 

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

@DeweySayenoff @notLostInSpace   I'm gonna help you think.  First, a couple of your comments are just wrong, such as:  "hired for the few ceremonial posts they fulfill".   If you truly think it is just a few you need to do some more research, it is pretty much a full time obligation for most of the family members, hardly a "few".    "Do a hell of a lot more with the budget".  First, their budget has actually gone down since John Major was PM (you do know who he is right?).  Royal family does have a budget of about $51 million, but the value in tourism is well known:

http://brandfinance.com/knowledge_centre/stories/how-we-valued-the-monarchy-as-a-brand-uk-tourism-contribution

Do you think the value stays if the Royals are sent packing?  I know I have stood outside Buckingham Palace several times to see the changing of the guard.  Me and millions others, from all over the world.  Same sort of stuff like the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Washington.  You want that cancelled too, maybe we can turn that building into condos or something?

Further, I'm pretty sure that I can understand my forefathers burdens regardless of the fact I was born in the US (you assert that people born in the US don't have anyone's boot on them....hmm, pretty big assumption).  Both of my parents grew up in poverty in the depression years.  They knew oppression pretty well.  Agree, it is not the same as the author writes about.  When your own government causes the dust bowl and then does nothing to help, what is the difference if that cause is domestic or foreign?

My comments on suits were not that the author was suing anyone but merely to make an analogy that he has lots of company in the groups of people who cannot see a day without somehow remembering that their ancestors were abused sometime in the past.   At some point there has to be a statute of limitations!